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1BTN Records Of The Year

Let’s get straight to it: 2018 has been a bumper year for music. Here on 1BTN we are blessed to have an incredible array of DJs who are only too happy to share their digging finds with you lot, our wonderful and loyal listeners.

The only rules we’ve applied is that these are 2018 releases. Our digital diggers have been allowed to select non-physical product on the basis that it was first available this year.

Nu Guinea – Nuova Napoli (NG Records, Italy)

This has been a ridiculously excellent year for new albums and so the 1BTN Album of 2018 was always going to be hotly contested but for those of you already familiar with the jazzy disco fusion rhythms of Nu Guinea this is probably not a surprise. Lead track Ja Vulesse has been a staple for dozens of 1BTN DJs this year and the downtempo title track has also received serious air play. There’s loads that sounds familiar in the NG repertoire: library vibes permeate, there’s some straight up funk and, of course, enough analogue synths to appease even the most ardent 80s fan but no two tracks sound the same and it’s as far away from a pastiche as it’s possible to be. All seven tracks have been spun on 1BTN on a regular basis showing just how bloody good this album really is.

Lucio Aquilina and Massimo Di Lena, the Neapolitan duo behind the controls, self released the LP in spring and it sold out almost overnight across the UK. It’s popularity reflected in that now, merely eight months after release, it has been repressed three times. The success of the album has also seen their eponymous first EP, released in 2015 on Early Sounds Recordings, reissued to cash-in/satisfy online demand.

Balearic Ultras, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’s Dan Storey and Nick Carling were among the DJs to back this one to number one but there was fierce competition at the top: Nu Guinea pipped Blood Orange’s Negro Swan (Domino Recordings) and Steven Legget’s Bathhouse (Firecracker Recordings) Jono McCleery, who twice appeared in session on What’s Wrong With Groovin’s Sunday afternoon show, also has his fans – his Seeds Of A Dandelion LP, released on Counter Records got a love of love too.

For those who want to explore further: Nu Guinea’s home town of Naples has been chucking out some absolute slow mo disco gold in 2018: Periodica Records 7”s (Space Garage, Whodamanny et al) have been sought after by a glut of our crew and the Mystic Jungle Tribe have also released a great second LP, ‘Live in Naples’ no less at the tail end of last year.

We love it… congrats Nu Guinea: well deserved!

Mr Bongo

When the votes were being counted up there was a deep concern that this could be seen as nepotism; after all, the Bongo crew, through their Brighton based shop, have sponsored the station and had a show on here, plus the ace Black Fan and Heather Sheret each have a foot in both camps… but maybe we protest too much…

This year the Mr Bongo family have maintained a relentless release schedule, shining a light on lesser known nuggets and making them available on easily affordable 7” singles as well as reissuing albums that would have cost an arm and a leg and probably more. Jazz may be at the heart of the Mr Bongo legacy but there’s a lot more to the label than that, so much so that there probably isn’t a DJ on 1BTN who hasn’t played a Mr Bongo record this year. A year in which albums by the likes of Ebo Taylor, Marijata, Skull Snaps, Spaceark, Atmosfear, Tim Maia, Protoje, Shina Williams, Burnier & Cartier, Foster Sylvers, Cymande and The Jackson Sisters have been made available to all and a year in which scarce and expensive singles by The Disco Dub Band, O’Seis, Jerry Butler, Carlos Sodre and more have deservedly made available again… the list goes on and on.

Another label responsible for reissuing a shed load of sought after records came in second. Rob Butler’s Be With garnered support from the usual Balearic DJs but also this year from the soul and funk crowd, on the back of a bumper crop of albums, most notably the incredible KPM and Themes International selection, plus, of course, finally making Marti Caine’s Point Of View, notable for the obscure disco classic ‘Love the way you love me’, affordable to many for the first time. Be With also released hard to find beauties from a diverse range, including label staple Ned Doheny, the much sampled Freddie Scott (think Biz Markie’s Just A Friend hip-hop fans!), Batteaux, Kimiko Kasani, the Deidre Wilson Tabac, Arthur Russell’s short-lived post-punk band The Necessaries, Ruf Dug’s Manchester street soul discovery Bo’Vel and back to back 12s from ex-Freez man John Rocca’s Pink Rhythm.

Other labels that impressed our crew were On The Corner Records who’s Dengue Dengue Dengue, Penya and Khalab releases garnered lots of aiplay, and Munich based Toy Tonics who churned out a superb mix of vinyl and digital only tracks, notably Ray Mang’s remix of the Phenomenal Handclap Band’s ‘Judge Not’ and bangers from the likes of Kapote.

Womack and Womack – M.P.B. (Melodies International 12”)

Wow! These days the reissue game is a serious business. Labels, like our label of the year Mr Bongo and, in our votes, its closest competitor Be With excel at unearthing records that most of us have never heard. The likes of Music From Memory, the Athens Of The North and Jazzman keep on bringing more forgotten records to the attention of collectors and aficionados and in so doing, they shine a light on artists who wouldn’t even merit a footnote in the history of recorded music. The past few years have seen many a record dealer complain as another record that sold for hundreds a few years ago becomes available for the price of a few pints. This year may have given a few dealers cause for complaint…

Nominations in this category are by no means obscure: Kate Bush’s remastered albums and Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ were both heavily supported (if you don’t know the mixes of Heart of Glass that made the reissue then get to know!) and Marti Caine’s Point of View LP on Be With has been well known for a long time, if impossible to get cheaply. Others such as Stephane Severac’s ‘Hold On’ and Keyesha’s ‘Stop it’ have tickled a few Balearic tastebuds. The sound of ‘Hold on’ streaming across the fields at Alfresco Festival when Steve KIW opened up our main stage there will be one of the defining moments of the summer for this writer! The Cosmic Sounds of N’Draman Blinch, the classic funk of Skull Snaps, the wonderful gospel of Pastor T.L. Barrett and the latest from the catalogue of Shina Williams all made a serious impression on our crew too but the winner was one that saw half the station queuing up on release day…

Frankie Knuckles’ Paradise Ballroom mix of Womack and Womack’s ‘M.P.B.’ has been a well known, but not so often seen, record for garage fans and Knuckles’ devoted fan base since 1989 when Island Records included it as the third and final track on the b-side of the 12” promotional copy they mailed to their US DJ Pool. Despite releasing M.P.B in the UK 4th and Broadway omitted the dancefloor oriented mix, instead keeping Frankie and David Morales’ ‘folk version’ on the b-side and went with a remix by 80s pop button twiddler Stephen Taylor, more notable for his work with Howard Jones than the soulful tones of Cecil and Linda Womack.

In the UK ‘M.P.B.’ tanked, failing to reach the top 75 despite coming less than a year after their top three hit (and far inferior!) ‘Teardrops’, meanwhile the stock of the Def Mix production team of Knuckles, Morales and Satoshi Tomie, often aided by John Poppo, kept on rising and over the next 25 years they wrote, produced and mixed (and remixed) hundreds of the greatest songs ever to grace dancefloors. And so it was that this mix, unavailable except to those who were prepared to shell out a fair few quid on the second hand market, grew in reputation and desirability meaning that when Sam ‘Floating Points’ Shepherd’s Melodies International finally secured a licence for it the 1BTN crew were foaming at the mouth… it’s a beautifully executed mix, familiar riffs, wonderful folk-soul vocals, garage-era but at a graceful sub-100bpm tempo. If the whole point of reissuing lost records is to make them available and make people aware of things they may have missed then Melodies hit the spot here. A deserved winner!

The Library Music Film: music from & inspired by the film with top shelf tracks selected by the film’s stars (Legere)

In October almost 20 of the 1BTN crew boarded rail replacement bus services to London to witness a little piece of history. Brian Bennett, Alan Hawkshaw, Keith Mansfield, John Cameron and Alan Parker – a collection of names you may not know but who’s music you most certainly will – performed live in the atrium of the British Library as part of their Late At The Library season and in support of a film simply entitled ‘The Library Music Film’.

The film, issued by German funk and soul label Legere Recordings, celebrates the kings of library music, the musicians whose compositions you can hum without ever having know you’ve ever listened to. Grange Hill theme? KPM. Superstars? KPM. Grandstand (and pretty much every tv sport theme tune)? KPM. The bloody Countdown clock? Yeah, same again… The work of KPM (and latterly Themes International) is only half the story here though: yes, they were the gang on stage but the film celebrated a lot more. Other labels such as Bruton Music, Tele Music and Music De Wolfe also featured and the soundtrack, as it is, compiled from selections by the likes of Jurassic 5’s Cut Chemist, Ugly Duckling’s Young Einstein, Mr Thing and our pal, and regular guest, DJ Format and sequenced by another former guest of What’s Wrong With Groovin’, Shawn Lee is one of the greatest low riding collections of funk you’ll hear in this or any year.

Hammond riffs, rolling drums, funky chases… it’s all here. It could be the best soundtrack to a Blaxploitation film you’ve never seen. One thing is for sure our DJs have swarmed over this – and the 11 (yes, eleven!) Be With reissues of KPM and Themes International LPs making this our compilation of 2018.

Beneath the top spot there were three, totally different, albums competing for silver. Saint Etienne’s Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley released two excellent comps on Ace Records this year and their State Of The Union (the American dream 1967-1973) which features Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and many more household names displaying a vulnerability that they had never experienced before. It’s worth getting just for Louis Armstrong’s cover of John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace A Chance’.

Fans of Claremont 56 and Leng records may have missed Club Meduse, compiled by Charles Bals with a little bit of help from Spacetalk duo Paul ‘Mudd’ Murphy (of C56 and Leng) and Danny ‘Psychemagik’ McLewin. A concept compilation, if there could be such a thing, for Club Meduse has never existed, except for in Charles’ mind, “that moment near dawn when day and night meet like young lovers under a purple sky”, full of obscure gems, such as The One O Ones ‘Radio Cosmo’.

And, sharing the silver, is Dave Lee aka Joey Negro. His Remixed With Love work can be a little marmite – some of our more sensitive DJs don’t like to see classics worked over time and time again – but the disco crew love him and when he breathes new life into some forgotten classics it’s hard to argue with them. Volume Three of the Remixed With Love series sees Lee feeding Deniece Williams, Gladys Knight And The Pips, Earth Wind And Fire and a whole host of other big names through his magic machine to the joy of dancefloors everywhere.


We broadcast live for at least 17 hours every day. We have more than 150 DJs choosing the tunes. We have no playlists and no corporate boss to kowtow too. We play whatever we want (within Ofcom guidelines of course!)

With so much good music coming through again this year it means that getting a consensus about one track alone is really difficult. And we mean, really difficult. More than 100 tracks were nominated! Whittling down to a top five proved tricky enough… it took a recount to confirm the winner!

The Phenomenal Handclap Band
“Judge not” (Ray Mang special mix)
(Toy Tonics records)

Judge Not is a track that has been played solidly on the station for the past few months. It has lit up disco, house, Balearic and pop shows alike, prompting enquiries for the title every time. Ray Mang’s mix is wonderfully uplifting: a floor filler that’ll put a smile on everyone’s face. Super piano hooks, gospel vocals, a baseline that you can’t help but move to. It’s a stunning track that DJs will be spinning for years to come.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band hail from New York. The Toy Tonics label is based in Munich. Ray Mang is from London. This international team have combined for the big hitter of 2018. Had it come out in the summer you’d have heard it everywhere. We can only assume that someone will pick this up and licence it in 2019 so that it becomes the absolute smash it deserves to be.

Neither PHB or Ray Mang are newcomers but this is as fresh as it gets. The Handclappers struck pay dirt with ’15 to 20′ back in 2009 and have been dropping nuggets ever since. Mang, as a remixer, editor and an artist in his own right, has been at the forefront of nu-disco-boogie-house-shizzle since the turn of the century, putting out dance floor damage on Eskimo, DFA, Barefoot Beats and his own Mangled label.

This is three seconds short of eight minutes of perfection. It is the first 1BTN TRACK OF THE YEAR.

The top five…

1. Phenomenal Handclap Band – Judge not (Ray Mang special mix)

2. Begin – Day Pulse – (Love International)
James Holroyd aka Begin is one of the best damn DJs on the planet and this the second track from a four-track EP, the debut release on Love International, is simply stunning.

3. Christine & the Queens ft Dam Funk – Girlfriend (Because)
Heloise Letissier teamed up with Dam Funk on her return and this went down a storm.

4. Mushrooms Project – ‘Dubby Bolas’ (EarthBoogie Remix) 12″ (Leng)
Italian Balearic dons came back in 2018 on this limited edition release with label mates Earthboogie and pretty much our entire horizontal crewe got on board. Big up Marco and Giorgio.

5. Pan Electric – Sweet as Rain– Claremont 56
Listeners with longer memories may remember Deep Forest’s Sweet Lullaby and a few of our crew reckon this is a modern take on that: blissful, divine, gorgeous… Paul Murphy’s C56, Leng and Spacetalk labels can still do no wrong.

The Rest! (In alphabetical order)

165 303 – Luke Vibert (Astrophonica)
AK Patterson – It’s Not Over Till They Cry (East City Rockers)
Airhead – Droplit (1-800 Dinosaur)
Al Kent – Vince (GAMM)
Alborosie meets the Wailers featuring Chronixx – Contradiction (vpal)
Ambala ft Jonas Krag – Slow River (Music For Dreams)
Amy Douglas – Never Saw It Coming (Crooked Man Dub) (DFA)
Antoine Kogut – Sphere of Existence (Versatile Records)
Barbatuques – Baina (Wolf Muller mix) (Selva Discos)
Baxter Dury, Etienne de Crécy and Delilah Holliday – Only My Honesty Matters (Heavenly Recordings)
BBNG x Little Dragon – Tried (Innovative Leisure)
Before Christ – Tuesday Club (Mushrooms Project Acid Line Mix) (Is It Balearic)
Bel – Ready To Die (Mudd’s Extended Mix) (Claremont 56)
Bella Boo – Is It Rude To Wear My Shades (Studio Barnhus)
Blazers – Groove Sequence (Ashley Beedle North Street Mix) (F*CLR)
Blundetto – Good Ol’ Days (Heavenly Sweetness)
Body Double – Run (BodyisDouble)
Boma – Alterleo (Claremont 56)
Chaka Khan – Like Sugar (Diary/Island)
Children of Zeus – Slow Down (First Word Records)
Chris Coco & Camillo Miranda – Dinosaur Baby (IIB)
Cordovas – This Town’s A Drag (ATO Records)
Cotonete – Layla (Heavenly Sweetness)
Czarface & MF Doom – Bomb Thrown (Silver Age)
DJ Format – The Meeting ( part 1 & 2 ) (Giselle)
Djeuh Djoah and Lieutenant Nicholson – El Niño (Hot Casa)
Eleven 76 – Dark Side of Pluto (Mocambo)
Emilie Nana – I Rise (Compost)
Ghost Vision – Saturnus / Zuul Passage (Kompakt)
Gil Scot Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Tahira’s Afrobeat Version) – Wah Wah 45s
Goat – Let It Burn (Rocket)
Gogo Penguin – Bardo (Decca)
Goshawk ft. Erik Rico – Home (Piano Vibe Mix) (Boogie Cafe Records)
Greg Blackman & Orlando Perez – If You Can Not Try (Ashley Beedle’s ‘North Street’ Vocal Mix) (Ramrock Records)
Gunesh, Туни Деря, Everland Music
Guy One Feat Florence Adooni – Estre (Philophon)
Honeyfeet – Meet Me On The Corner (Crazy P Remix) (Wah Wah 45s)
Hot Snakes – Six Wave Hold Down (Sub Pop)
i:Cube – XXX (Abel’s Edit) (Versatile)
Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids – An Angel Fell (!K7One)
Insólito UniVerso – Vuelve (Olindo Records)
Jack Ashford – Blackjack (Record Shack Austria)
Jack White – Corporation (Third Man)
Jay Ka Feat. Paula King – Only Grace (Kai Alcé Mixes) – Saft.
John Coltrane – Untitled Original 11383 ( Take 1 ) (Impulse!)
Jonny Benavidez and Cold Diamond & Mink – Let’s Get Together (Timmion Records)
Jono McCleery – Gabriel (Counter Records)
Jordan Rakei – Wildfire (Ninja Tune)
Joseph Malik – Take A Left (Jo Wallace’s North Street Remix – Ramrock)
Kamaal Williams – Salaam (Black Focus)
Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima (BMG)
Kasper Marott – Keflavik (SSPB)
Kerri Chandler ‎– Ye Yo Ma (A Doug Gomez RePercussion Edit) (King Street Sounds)
Kiki Kudo – U Are Awake (Incensio)
Koffee – Raggamuffin (vpal)
Lia Mice – Human Being (Optimo Music)
Lizzo – Boys (Atlantic)
Maisha – Azure (Brownswood Recordings)
Marcus Marr – Familiar Five (Justin Van Der Volgen Remix) (DFA)
Mark Forshaw – Acid Bastard (I Love Acid)
Marsh Dondurma – Khloptsi – Eighth Note
Mattiel – Whites of Their Eyes (Heavenly Recordings)
Melly – Shruberry (Major Problems)
Mildlife – Phase 2 (Research Records)
Monkey Marc and Dre Island – Yaad and Abroad (Digi killaz)
Mr Mitch – Settle Label (Gobstopper)
Nils Frahm – My Friend the Forest (Erased Tapes)
Ondeno – mayolye (Rocafort)
Oyvind Morken- My Computer is Acting Strange (Mysticisms)
Parquet Courts – Total Football (Rough Trade Records)
Peggy Gou – Travelling Without Arriving – Phonica White.
Penya- Tribes- Al Zanders Remix- on the Corner
Planningtorock – Beulah Loves Dancing (DFA)
Quart – Inspiration (BBE)
Rakim – King’s Paradise (Mondo)
Remi – My People ft Thando (no label) )
Robohands – Lament (Village Live)
Róisín Murphy – Jacuzzi Rollercoaster
Róisín Murphy – The Rumble (Vinyl Factory)
Ron Carter – The Shadow Of Your Smile (Rabon remix) – Promo
Sean McCabe & Nathan Adams – I Wonder (Louie Vega Mix) – Good vibrations
Seinabo Say – I Owe You Nothing (Universal)
Sekou Babe – Perspectives of the Youth (Dirt Crew Recordings)
Shida Shihabi – Abisme (130701)
Sign Libra – Intro/Tropical Plantarum (Antinote)
Skeler & Ytho – Limit (Liquid Ritual)
Space Garage – Space garage (Periodica Records)
Stubb Feat. Jane Weaver & Mike Lindsay – Boring Days (Paper)
Tenderlonious & The 22archestra – SV Disco (22a)
Tessela – Glisten (Whities)
The Fortuna POP! All-Stars – You Can Hide Your Love Forever (Fortuna Pop)
Jerome Derradji – The Lost Chicago Beat Traxx 88 (Still Music)
Thomas Pizzini – Flash (Original Mix) (Guendalina Records)
Tirzah ft Coby Sey – Devotion (Domino)
Ty Segall – Every 1’s A Winner (Drag City)
Ümit Aksu Orkestrası – Bermuda Şeytan Üçgeni (Zel Zele)
Weiss – Feel my needs (PDM mix)
Woven Entity – Kudu (Enid Records)

An almost complete playlist of this Top 100, plus a smattering of tracks from the year’s best albums, is available on Spotify

So, thats it for 2018… let’s see what delights 2019 has in store. Thanks to everyone who has been sharing these and getting involved. And thanks to everyone making music: we need you in these crazy times!

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